Is it just me, or were y’all braced for the Southern Charm reunion to be an angry fever dream stretching two hours in which everyone breaks into two camps and yells at each other whilst trying not to slur their words? Two extended episodes of Kathryn Dennis having an anxiety meltdown is not my idea of entertainment.
But luckily, the powers that be realized this season was low on entertainment value and high on 2020 anxiety flashbacks – and decided the reunion needed to be less of a civics lesson and more of a petty squabble about nothing important fueled by alcohol and God knows what else. With all of their newfound “wokeness,” Bravo TV and the production company Haymaker forgot the cardinal rules of reality television, which are: Be entertaining, provide a place for weekly escapism, and allow the audience to feel superior to some hot mess.
I highly doubt anyone will be binge-watching this past season, and I predict that if the show survives into an eighth installment – season seven will be like the aforementioned fever dream, with everyone forgetting it ever happened.
So far the reunion has been far more entertaining than the season which preceded it, which is why I vote that all reunions be done in the style of Watch What Happens Live – meaning they be shot live with no editing, save for the occasional bleep for the naughty words that would annoy the censors. This way, it would be much harder to hide your crazy. They would need a bouncer, a la Jerry Springer for some of the Housewives, but it would be worth it. Seriously, this would be some must-see-TV, and require wine, a cheese plate, and some charcuterie.
Bring on the good Mortadella!
Back to New York and the charmers on stage, each with their own settee sofa. You might think that the lovely Madison LeCroy would demure, and they would talk about something other than the creepers sliding into her DMs, but no – this is the focus of the reunion, and she seems to be enjoying it.
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Part two of the reunion starts off like a kindergarten class before a field trip, as everyone has to “pee.” Craig Conover says “we’re gonna shotgun a beer.” Now I think everyone would agree this is the last thing he needs, but he is nothing if not predictable.
Right out of the gate, host Andy Cohen introduces John Pringle for closer examination, and starts with some softball questions and compliments. Then Craig chimes in, questioning Pringle’s parenting and custody decisions. If two friends having a beer broached this subject more tactfully it would be one thing, but to say “you talk about how you miss your kids and all this shit but why the bleep did you leave?” That’s over the top for someone who isn’t a parent, and hasn’t made hard decisions. While questioning Pringle, Craig rocks in his chair, unable to sit still. Whether it was a mental health decision or a need to go back to where one feels safe, this is outside the boundaries of reality television for someone you profess to “love.”
In prior seasons, Craig bared witness to Cameran Eubanks saying that now that she is a mother, she views Kathryn’s situation differently, so why wouldn’t Craig figure that he’s not an expert in single parenting? To me, this was the ultimate “stay in your lane” moment. To his credit, John shut that line of questioning down with a stern warning.
After showing a clip where Patricia Altschul tells Pringle that she thinks that Madison’s relationship with Austen Kroll has run its course, Austen asserts that Patricia was “thrilled” that he and Madison were together while she “solidified” her place on the show. I’m calling foul on this one. After the video of Austen grabbing his morning missile went viral, Patricia was off the bandwagon, if she was ever on it. There was nothing duplicitous about Miss Pat’s feelings, as she always was on message. You might not have liked it, but she was always consistent. If you confused being tolerated for being welcomed, that’s on you.
Austen took it to another level, though, by saying that Patricia pays Madison to not do her wrong. Miss Pat could find someone else to do her hair and makeup, but she’s loyal to Madison and shoots from the hip. Austen on the other hand would have done Madison dirty even if he was on salary. Next there was mention of “guy code,” which we all know only exists when it’s convenient. In a comment which got no follow up, Madison inferred that a week prior, she and Pringle had some form of interaction. This is one more reason that reunions should be live, because we all know someone jumped on this one, and it got cut.
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While Andy asks about Madison’s mommy makeover, Craig looks like he’s melting into his chair with his eyes closed, suggesting that while recovering from full body surgery, Miss LeCroy was hooking up with three men. The slut shaming has got to go, particularly when it comes out of the mouths of the Peter Pan barflies. Obviously Craig has never had abdominal surgery, because the last thing you want is someone on you, or you on someone (I guess unless the drugs were really primo). I think most people would want a paramour to see the finished product. But Craig persists, recalling a moment of alleged intimacy between Madison and Austen, post-surgery. It was vulgar enough that Andy tried to hide behind his note cards.
Then Conover, a member of the bar (the legal kind) and the head of a company, says he’s not slut-shaming, but goes on to say that Madison dated more than one man at a time. Oh my, and clutch my pearls! Someone get the smelling salts! I’m not sure what he was talking about with a guy “balled up with a pillow crying,” but obviously he wanted to see more of the mommy makeover.
Finally, Andy asks Craig to chill out, and wonders aloud why he cares, considering that Madison and Austen have broken up. Austen chimes in, saying no, “she’s still f***ing with me.” Now, that particular verb is a game for two. In the vernacular of this group, an alpha would say no thanks, and keep walking, while the beta returns for more abuse. Get a grip, dude. All the booze in the world won’t get you to assert yourself. In other words, you’re a fool to do her dirty work, oh yeah.
To prolong the point, reality couple Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari got dragged into the muck because the latter “slid into my DMs,” according to Craig, while Cutler reportedly approached Madison in the same time frame. I have to say, there is a perverse curiosity to be a fly on the wall and read how these interactions went down. Are they right down to business, or are they more like, “Hi, I used to play football and I’m fit. I’ll be in Charleston next week during a pandemic, so you wanna have drinks?”
Are there emojis involved? I’ll bet there are! Not to sound like a total old fart, but sometime after COVID, the CDC might want to research this VD pod. A source on the set tells me that “everyone edits their DMs,” so I guess I’ll never know how things really went down. But one thing I do know is that Madison isn’t the one chasing these guys, per an inside source.
Back to the drunk on the last barstool, saying things like “she’s nasty” and “I hate that I’m even in her presence,” to Madison (of course). He claims he will never have to see her again once they are off stage. But I’ll bet when the next contract is mailed, if the price is right, he’ll be in her company once again, jumping through those Bravo hoops, so pipe down little buddy. The screen splits into thirds, with Madison, Austen, and Craig. Funny how it takes two charmer guys to attempt to argue with one sober woman. Austen insists he’s opened up whole new worlds for her, and I hear chortles from across the world. Perhaps if the wardrobe led to the world of misspent youth and frat parties. Madison strikes back, calling Craig a crackhead for his lame advice, and Andy Cohen loses it, laughing out loud. Do all of the men in Charleston require a handler for their day to day executive functioning, and why are there always women around to pick up the broken little boy pieces? Seriously, I want to know.
As an aside, if your entertainment system has the capacity, freeze the screen when it’s in thirds and look at the faces mid-yell. Some folks are busting out of their skin trying to get some point across. If this was bugging you this much, would you have held it in for months?
Onto the topic of “gaslighting” introduced by Austen. I have to wonder if any of the people who bandy about this term have ever taken the time to watch the film, Gaslight, featuring a very young Angela Lansbury. It’s excellent viewing if you want to see it done old school. I don’t know about Madison, but the undisputed Southern Charm king of the gaslight was definitely Thomas Ravenel, preying on unsuspecting young women.
Moving on, Andy asks Austen about the state of his beer. Kroll proudly describes how the game changed when his brew, Trop Hop made its way into cans and ended up on grocery store shelves in Charleston. He says that the beer, meant to last eight to ten weeks, ran out in two. I guess it’s a reverse Chanukah miracle, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say congratulations, Slainte, and L’Chaim.
But just when things were on an upswing, Austen references Leva Bonaparte’s business, and says he’s meeting with her husband, Lamar, sidestepping the active Charleston businesswoman who corrects him.
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“You didn’t have a meeting with my husband, I told my husband to have a meeting with you,” she corrected Austen, adding, “But also you pissed me off earlier, so I don’t know if the meeting will finish itself, until you decide to be a nice human being.”
Check and mate, and Austen doesn’t have the maturity to accept that Leva is holding the cards and simply back down, heeding Shep Rose’s advice, “basta.” She can kill your deal, in the words of Madison, “close your muppet mouth!”
Andy asks Madison about Austen as a businessman, and it’s obvious in watching Kroll’s face how much power she still holds. While I largely traffic in snark, I am being honest when I say that Austen should get the name and number of Shep’s shrink. She or he has worked wonders, and it can’t hurt. Perhaps you need help weaning yourself off of your ex.
Finally it’s time to take a deep breath and move onto the topic of Kathryn living at Thomas’ house, and what a colossal mistake that was. Shep and Craig claim they were shocked when they saw Ravenel make a cameo on Southern Charm, with Conover saying it made him “look like an idiot,” after all that had gone down. Then Andy asked about Ravenel’s third child with Heather Mascoe, a woman he had broken things off with when she announced she was expecting. Added to that, Mascoe’s ex is Leo Chiagkouris, the man who hung the sign in front of his house warning people about Ravenel and the charges he was facing at the time for sexual assault.
Pringle asks how co-parenting is going, and KD explains that it’s not, as Ravenel is attempting to disrupt their parenting agreement because he wants to live over two hours northwest of Charleston in Aiken, S.C. A guardian ad litem is involved in the case, and the two will face off again in court later this month. As they say in this type of battle, only the lawyers win.
When asked why Ravenel is doing this, Danni Baird chimes in “because he can.”
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The talk turns to Dennis’ new love, Chleb Ravenell, who she says gets along well with her children by Thomas Ravenel. We take another trip down the overwhelming storyline of the season with talk of monkey emojis, and while nobody should diminish the stupidity of the post, I think everyone and their mother has covered this enough for all viewers. Kathryn steps in it again telling Leva that she thought that the restauranteur was “having fun” with the matter, and used Dennis’ faux pas to advance her place on the show. Leva countered by asking Kathryn if it sounds like fun to get daily death threats on the internet. The two women agree that KD’s behavior was tone deaf.
Leva then gets a chance to discuss her family’s journey to the United States from Iran, first moving to Canada. Her family is Christian and not Muslim, so they found themselves on the outs in their homeland, and traveled west for a better life with little awareness of the racial issues in North America. In referencing the history of the U.S., the topic turns to the coincidence of Thomas Ravenel and Chleb Ravenell sharing the same last name plus an extra “L.” The cast explains that this was due to the nature of slavery, where masters would often give their last name to the people they owned.
To round out the evening, Andy asks how this season has changed the cast members of Southern Charm. Austen shared that he needs to take control of his own narrative and happiness. Amen! Madison stated that she now knows her worth, and Kathryn explains that she has learned that she needs to except humility and not be so defensive. The cast parts company with a Trop Hop toast, and everyone seems a bit mellower than when they first sat down.
So once again, that’s a wrap for the Southern Charm recaps for this season … and time will tell if we will all be back here next year. If seven seasons have shown us something, though, it’s that this crew delivers bigger drama off-screen during their off season.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Amy Feinstein is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and has been writing professionally for more than 25 years. She has a degree in English literature and a degree in British history. Amy enjoys writing about entertainment, sports, lifestyle, television and movies. When not at the computer, Amy can be found in the garden or at yoga class.
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